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Wine industry body pleads for $86m from Canberra and gets nothing

By Tuesday 14 May 2024No Comments

Australian Grape & Wine has condemned the lack of assistance for grapegrowers and winemakers in the Federal Budget.

It called it a “missed opportunity” that ignores industry’s pleas for urgent support.

AGW had asked for $86 million for an assistance package but received absolutely nothing.

“The industry has been left to wither on the vine as the Federal Budget fails to deliver,” CEO Lee McLean says.

“This Budget provides no relief for the serious challenges facing growers and winemakers in regional communities across much of Australia.

“The industry’s struggles are not the result of normal market fluctuations, but stem from factors outside the industry’s control, including the loss of our largest export market in 2020.”

McLean criticised the omission of the industry’s “modest” pre-Budget submission requests, including a $30 million sustainability package, $36 million for export assistance and $20 million for domestic wine tourism.

“We made it crystal clear – many in regional wine communities across Australia are on their knees and need urgent government action to stop a bad situation from becoming a catastrophe,” McLean says.

“However, instead of support, all we got was a new tax in the form of the deeply flawed Biosecurity Protection Levy.

“While China’s decision to lift import duties is positive, it will simply not resolve the issues facing growers and winemakers.

“The economic shock experienced by our industry has led to unsustainable prices for grapes, an oversupply of wine and increasing economic disadvantage in regional Australia.”

McLean says it’s a damning indictment of just how dire the situation is when the refund on an empty wine bottle is worth more than what many of growers receive for the grapes that fill it.

“It’s disappointing that despite the sector’s $45.5 billion economic contribution, the government has turned a blind eye to our pleas for assistance,” he says.

“We call on them to reconsider this missed opportunity.”

McLean says Australian Grape & Wine is committed to fighting for growers, winemakers and regional communities.

“We will not let this go,” says McLean.

“This deliberate failure to help families in regional Australia jeopardises the viability of entire communities and without help it is only going to get worse.”

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